Phoenix Rising FC parts ways with manager Rick Schantz
Phoenix Rising FC has “mutually agreed to part ways” with manager Rick Schantz, the club announced on Wednesday amid a turbulent 2022 USL Championship campaign.
Assistant coach Danny Stone will serve as interim manager until PRFC names a new head coach.
“I want to thank the owners, staff and especially all the players I was fortunate to work with these past five years,” Schantz said in a press release. “I have put my heart and soul into Phoenix Rising. It’s now time to turn over this amazing club to a fresh voice. I will forever remember the great moments we’ve had together.”
Schantz’s tenure at the helm finishes with an 80-34-21 record in all competitions, two Western Conference championships, one regular-season title and the 2019 Coach of the Year award.
“Rick Schantz raised the bar to a whole new level, not only for Phoenix Rising but the entire USL Championship,” PRFC general manager Bobby Dulle said in the release.
“The 20-game win streak, two conference titles, being the highest-scoring team in North America in each of the past three seasons — the success Rick helped this club achieve is astounding. I want to thank him on behalf of our owners, front office and fans for everything he accomplished at Phoenix Rising. We all wish him the best of luck in the future.”
Schantz’s departure comes after the team’s recent abysmal run of form which saw the club fall to under .500 for only the second time since 2017 — both of which came this season — when the Tucson native had yet to serve his first of two interim stints leading PRFC.
Phoenix currently sits at 8W-5D-11L (29 points) and in 10th place in the Western Conference standings, four points back of a playoff spot with 10 games left this season.
After starting off the 2022 campaign 1W-0D-2L, Phoenix Rising went a perfect 6-0-0 in all competitions en route to Schantz getting named April’s Coach of the Month and the team advancing to the U.S. Open Cup Round of 32 for the first time since 2014.
But since the turn of May, PRFC is 3W-5D-10L in all comps, including a club-record nine-game winless streak and a four-match losing streak. Rising also lost three straight home matches in that span, two of which featured being shut out in back-to-back games.
However, it must be stated that Phoenix was dealing with numerous absences from key starters due to injuries, red card suspensions and international duty in that span, including the 7-0 loss away to New Mexico United in which USL had to make an exemption for Rising to bring eight academy players — some who graduated high school two days later — in order to field a team when the previous max was five.
Schantz had been with the club since the 2017 season in which he served two interim stints following the departure of Frank Yallop (April 2017) and after Patrice Carteron left in June 2018. The Tucson native led Phoenix Rising to its first of two Western Conference titles and first-ever USL Championship Final that year and was officially named the club’s fourth manager going into the 2019 season.
In his first full year at the helm, Schantz was named the Coach of the Year after Phoenix Rising had the greatest regular season in league history en route to winning the club’s first-ever Supporters’ Shield. The 2019 campaign saw PRFC break USL records for wins (24), points (78) and goals (89) in a single season, including a North American soccer record of 20 consecutive wins.
The following year — which was shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic — Phoenix Rising made the 2020 Final against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, but the match wasn’t played due to positive COVID-19 cases within TBR’s camp and no winner was declared. However, USL League One awarded Greenville Triumph SC champions after Union Omaha was unable to play in their Final for the same exact reason.
Phoenix Rising also gave up the right to host its first-ever Final in 2020 after the three points the club was awarded for San Diego Loyal SC’s forfeit gave PRFC a two-point lead over Tampa Bay.
The forfeit came following former Phoenix Rising winger Junior Flemmings’ alleged homophobic slur toward San Diego’s Collin Martin — who is openly gay — that saw Flemmings suspended for six games and Schantz placed on administrative leave for three matches before coming back for the Western Conference Final.